It’s once again that time where we leave one season of anime behind and head into another, so of course it is once again time for me to share some of my favorites from the previous season. This season saw an increase in the total number of shows that I saw through to the end, with a total of 19, 5 more than I saw in the Spring season. I felt that this season was more so one of quantity than overall quality, though, as many of the shows I saw this season ended up simply being enjoyable experiences, and not really something I would call a favorite of mine. However, that does not mean that the amount of shows I truly enjoyed was lacking. Quite the contrary, as I actually have added two new awards this season. So let’s get the show on the road, starting with my production awards.
(Warning, there be some spoilers below)
Bones never ceases to impress me, and despite a stellar Spring season, I ultimately awarded Trigger with this award last season. It is finally Bones’ turn in the limelight, as they unquestionably were my favorite studio this season. They only had one show in the Summer as opposed to the three they had in Spring, but what a hell of a show it was. Speaking of that one show...
Winner: Mob Psycho 100
Without question Mob Psycho 100 was the show with my favorite animation this season. Hell, forget this season, at this point in the year, it is the show with my favorite animation in all of 2016. Not only was the show fluidly animated from start to finish, it managed to keep its quality while mixing in a wide range of animation and visual style techniques. These techniques included some absolutely gorgeous scenes animated via paint on glass images. Mob Psycho 100 was just a pure visual assault that was sorely needed in a season that had the overall weakest quality of animation I’ve seen this year.
Winner: Thunderbolt Fantasy
While Mob Psycho 100 may be the show with my favorite animation, Thunderbolt Fantasy easily takes home the honor of having my favorite art style from this season. The mere fact that the show was made using puppets would put it in contention alone, but it is when you see how meticulously detailed these puppets are that sets it over the top. Every character looks like the perfect fusion between Japanese anime aesthetic and the visual flair found in Chinese wuxia epics, with some of the characters looking like they were designed by famed Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano.
Winner: Teko’s First Dive (Amanchu!)
Last season my favorite moment was from the very start of the season. This time around it is from the very end of the season. This was a tough call for me as there were several amazing moments this season, with some prime examples being the ill-fated meeting between Corteo and Fango in 91 Days, Reigen kicking ass in the Mob Psycho 100's finale, and Suwa and Naho confronting Kakeru in Orange.
Ultimately, however, I had to go with the moment that its entire show was building towards. Teko finally getting a chance to dive in the ocean was what Amanchu! spent its 12 episodes arriving at, and it was well worth the wait. The beautiful, emotional, and at times hilarious payoff that this moment provided was one of the many reasons that Amanchu! had one of the most satisfying endings of the season in my eyes.
Winner: 91 Days
I love me a good mob story and a good revenge story, and I’ll be damned if 91 Days did not deliver on both counts. This was an extremely tense thriller that while sometimes played things by the book also still managed to toy around with our expectations and deliver some genuine twists. The cherry on top to all of this is one of my favorite endings all year long. I am not using that praise lightly, either, as unlike prior seasons this year, the Summer season easily had my favorite overall collection of actual stories.
Winner: Mob Psycho 100
91 Days came real close to winning this, but what ultimately set it and Mob Psycho 100 apart was that Mob Psycho 100 managed to keep developing its main character over the course of the entire season, whereas there was a string of episodes in 91 Days where Avilio kind of remains in a stasis as a character. He didn’t grow, but didn’t regress either. He was just kind of...there. To Mob Psycho 100's credit, though, that’s not the only reason this show gets this honor from me.
One of the things I absolutely loved about Mob Psycho 100 was its use of perspective and wishing things other people had. Almost none of the characters were happy with their current situations. For example, Mob was gifted with unbelievable psychic powers, but all he wanted was to be normal and popular like his little brother, while his little brother didn’t care for his popularity, all he wanted was powers like Mob.
Now let’s move on to my genre awards.
Winner: Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100 takes this one in a race that was actually closer than I expected. One of the things I was looking forward to this season was the return of D.Gray-man, one the most popular franchises from when I was in high school and D.Gray-man Hallow managed to deliver an entertaining blast from my past. Then there was Thunderbolt Fantasy, which had some gorgeously choreographed fight scenes set to some of Hiroyuki Sawano’s best work in recent times. However, I just could not get enough of the action scenes in Mob Psycho 100. Every single fight was a treat, and whenever Mob’s emotions exploded out of him, the resulting scene was always a sight to behold.
Winner: Thunderbolt Fantasy
Re:ZERO took some levels in the adventure class this season, particularly with the hunts for the White Whale and Witch’s Cult, which led to some amazing adventures, and Alderamin on the Sky had a fun cast of characters and some pretty smart tactical battles that made for some enthralling entertainment, but I just purely enjoyed Thunderbolt Fantasy more as an adventure series. What initially seemed like a rather cliche RPG-type journey eventually gave way to a heist adventure. Add on top of that some of the most entertaining over the top cheesy moments this side of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and I just had a pure blast.
Winner: New Game!
Honestly, this was a rather easy pick for me as I didn’t see any other real comedies this season. Shows like Amanchu! and ReLIFE had plenty of comedic moments, but they were balanced out in other ways that prevents me from being able to call them actual comedy shows, ReLIFE in particular at times got pretty damn serious. So New Game!, the show about a game developement studio entirely comprised of women (if there were any men there, they certainly never show up at any point that I can remember). It was cute, it was funny, but informative it was not. Anyone expecting something more along the lines of Shirobako were probably disappointed to some degree, with the show ending up being more like Servant x Service.
Winner: 91 Days
This was another real easy pick for me, but rather because its opposition was rather lacking. Orange showed signs of brilliance, but between a romance subplot that not only brought some very troubling thoughts to mind but dragged the show down quite often, an insanely stupid explanation for how the letters even got sent back in time in the first place, and at times some of the worst animation in the entire year, the show wound up be more disappointing than anything else. ReLIFE was honestly the only real contender here, and while I greatly enjoyed ReLIFE, I just really, really, really love a well executed mob revenge tale.
Ah, the first of my new awards introduced this season. I decided to add this because in prior seasons I was rolling in slice of life shows with the comedy shows, and while slice of life shows can often be comedies and many of them have comedic elements, this does not apply to the entire genre. Things get especially muddled when you take into account the healing type of slice of life shows like Flying Witch. This was easily one of the awards that was among the hardest for me to pick this season, because the Summer was strong with its slice of life shows, but I simply enjoyed Amanchu! more than the others.
So, real talk, I got rather desperate this season with this award. The Summer season absolutely sucked when it came to shorts, and seeing the Fall season have like 50 million god damn shorts (I’m almost certain there’s more shorts in the Fall season alone than the rest of the year combined, or at least very damn close to it) makes me kind of miffed that they couldn’t just bump a few of them into the Summer season instead. All things told, there were only three real options here; Bananya, The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi, and Re:PETIT.
Bananya was admittedly an insanely cute little short, but it was also really shallow. Being cute was all it had to offer. The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi was better than Bananya in that it actually had some substance to it, but even then it was hit or miss depending on the episode. So I’m awarding this to Re:PETIT, the comedy short spinoff to Re:ZERO. It’s kind of cheating, I know, as this show’s entire humor literally stems from Re:ZERO itself, with the show being significantly less entertaining if you haven’t seen Re:ZERO, but it’s the only short I enjoyed the entire run of.
Now let’s move on to my character awards.
Winner: Rem (Re:ZERO)
Stop the presses, someone named Rem from Re:ZERO their favorite female character of the Summer 2016 season, what a shocking turn of events!!! So, yeah, I’m just one of the hordes of people who really like Rem. There’s really not much to it, she’s cute, she’s badass, and she went above and beyond the call of duty, for Subaru of all god damn people. That’s not to say she ran away with this, however, as this season was full of some pretty great women like Nanaku and Yatori from Alderamin on the Sky and pretty much the entire casts of New Game! and Amanchu! among others. Still, props to Rem, because unlike a certain other person, Naho I’m looking at you, Rem had no trouble confessing her feelings to the person she loved, and in the realm of anime, that’s a quality that goes a long way.
Winner: Shang Bu Huan (Thunderbolt Fantasy)
This almost went to Mob from Mob Psycho 100 because I loved how multi-layered he was. He was gifted with great powers but was absolutely terrified of hurting others after a traumatic experience in his past. I just enjoyed the crotchety old stick in the mud that was Shang Bu Huan way too much. Shang Bu Huan was a factor in many of the more comedic moments in Thunderbolt Fantasy, as well as nearly all of its most badass moments. Suffice to say, Shang Bu Huan takes Teddy Roosevelt’s famous words, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick” very literally, which led to some of the best entertainment I got out of this season.
Winner: Fango (91 Days)
Ok so before the JoJo’s loving masses swarm me for not giving this to Yoshikage Kira, let me explain. Kira easily had the most literally explosive entrance out of any villain this year, and he is most certainly a fun villain, but I feel like he’s not quite there yet, though I am expecting great things from him in the Fall season. Plus while Kira is a great villain in his own right, he hasn’t been the source of nearly all of his show’s best scenes like Fango was for me. Make no mistake, 91 Days is a good show even without Fango, but nearly every part of the show that has firmly seeded itself into my memory banks has him involved in some way.
Winner: Suwa (Orange)
This is my second new award this season. As the name of the award says, this is for my MVP of the season. From henceforth I will award this to the character I think had the biggest positive impact on their show, the character whom if they weren’t there, their show would be worse off, even if their show was bad to begin with. I almost gave this inaugural award to BB from Taboo Tattoo, because when he swooped in doing his best cosplay of Neo from The Matrix, he gave Taboo Tattoo something it didn’t have before, a character I actually gave a damn about who wasn’t Tom. However, as this is Taboo Tattoo I am talking about, they managed to royally screw that up in spectacular fashion.
Instead I am giving this to Suwa, the man without whom Orange would have been even more of a mess. Without Suwa there to poke and prod Naho into actually taking action, nothing would have been accomplished. On top of that, Suwa was willing to sacrifice everything to save Kakeru. He even went so far as to NTR himself in this new timeline to ensure that Kakeru lived. Suwa is a bro for life, and is justifiably getting a spin-off movie telling the story from his perspective so he can finally be the hero he deserves to be!
And lastly, my favorite show this season.
Winner: Mob Psycho 100
So holy crap, yes shows other than dramas can win my AotS award. I hope no one was thinking this would be a recurring pattern after my seasonal favorites of Winter and Spring resulted with my favorite dramas from those seasons walking away with this award as well. Much like last season, though, this came down to the wire. It was a four horse race between Mob Psycho 100, 91 Days, Re:ZERO, and Thunderbolt Fantasy (and I know Thunderbolt Fantasy doesn’t technically count as anime since it isn’t drawn animation, but screw it, Urobuchi intended for it to appeal to anime fans and it did, so that’s good enough for me) with it coming down to the fact that I just enjoyed and appreciated Mob Psycho 100 the most.
I loved the holy hell out of One Punch Man, and I actually think Mob Psycho 100 is even better than that. I enjoy the visuals more, the fights more, and especially the writing more. More than any other show through the first three seasons of the year, Mob Psycho 100 is a pinnacle of its medium. Many of my other favorite shows this year could be replicated rather faithfully in live action form, but not Mob Psycho 100. This was a spectacle that could only be achieved through the art form of animation.
There you have it, my favorites from Crunchyroll’s Summer 2016 season. So what about you guys? What are your favorites from the Summer season?